INDIANAPOLIS Robert Kraft stared at the scoreboard, to see if time really had run out. It had.
In a game that meant so much, his New England Patriots had come up a fingertip or two short.
"It's for Miss Myra," wide receiver Deion Branch said after the Giants beat the Patriots 21-17 in the Super Bowl on Sunday night, "and we feel like we didn't get the job done."
Kraft's beloved wife, Myra, died days before the lockout ended last July, and football became an escape for his grief. He played a critical role in the negotiations that ended the lockout, with Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday going so far as to call him "a man who helped us save football."
The Patriots' players have always been close to the Krafts, with many seeing Myra like a second mother. Football is only a game, but it was the best way they had to show Kraft their love and ease the burden of his grief, if only for a bit.
They wore patches with "MHK" above their hearts, and a painting in the middle of the locker room showed a huddle of Patriots, their fingers pointed skyward beneath her initials.
When Tom Brady threw his second touchdown pass, he even tapped the patch above his heart twice and looked skyward.
"They saved me," Kraft said earlier in the week. "I never understood what the word 'heartbroken' meant. This horrible cancer came, and it's wrecked my life. Having this team has been a savior for me."
A Super Bowl trophy would have been the perfect ending to their story, the ultimate joy to balance the ultimate pain.
"It would have been sensational," tackle Sebastian Vollmer said, shaking his head.
Instead, Kraft stood alone on the sideline, watching as New England's season ended in disappointment.
Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch are some of Kraft's closest friends in the NFL, and he said earlier in the week that if he had to lose to someone, at least it would be to them.
But some losses cut a little deeper than others. Kraft spoke to a few players in the locker room before making a quick exit.
"It's tough for all of us," Brady said. "Certainly I wish we would have gotten it for him."